Although Mason Deaver’s novel The Feeling of Falling in Love is indeed a love story, as the title implies, it is also about self-esteem, social class differences, and the exploration of sexual and gender identity. Neil Kearney, a transgender teen, has a “friends with benefits” relationship with his friend Josh. Both use the relationship for stress relief and mutual pleasure. However, when Josh decides he loves Neil, Neil panics and invokes the Pull-Out Clause. Now, he has a week to prove to Josh that he has moved on with his roommate, Wyatt Fowler.  What could possibly go wrong, especially since Wyatt claims to be aRead More →

The first installment in a duology, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber is a fantasy, adventure, and romance story all rolled into one. It features Wren Greenrock and her twin sister, Rose Valhart. The two girls were separated at birth and raised in diverse locales with different values and perspectives. Rose has lived the life of a pampered princess at Anadawn Palace while Wren grew up near the Whisperwind Cliffs beside the ocean in a commune of witches. Now that Rose is about to be crowned queen, her grandmother has determined that a witch would better serve the kingdom of Eana. So, sheRead More →

Based on the web comic from WEBTOON, Crumbs by Danie Stirling is a fantasy romance featuring characters Ray and Laurie. A number of this graphic novel’s scenes occur in a bakery owned by Laurie’s Aunt Marigold, who names pastries after enchantment spells she has concocted. A seer who attends Council Academy, Ray wants to put her visions to good use. The novel’s second protagonist, Laurie Garcia aspires to be a world famous musician who plays sold-out concerts in which the entire audience sings along. Yet neither character has a straight route to that sought-after goal. Ray struggles with parental expectations and her own assurance thatRead More →

If books need labels, Café con Lychee by Emery Lee would be a romantic comedy that showcases queer interracial love between two people of color. Labels are suggestive of a category and, as such, provide a cognitive short-cut. Yet, labels also invite critical thinking. So, while Lee’s book does indeed feature two gay young men—one Japanese/Chinese, the other Puerto Rican—it dives deeper, emerging as a book about the universal experience of looking for acceptance and how fear makes people do terrible things. An openly gay boy, Theo Mori is a talented cook and soccer athlete. Even though his friends see him as confident, smart, andRead More →

Alechia Dow writes an intriguing speculative story with her novel The Kindred. Her two protagonists—as is everyone else in the Monchuri system—have been linked with since birth. The Kindred program was created after The Second Chaos, a revolution in which the poor rose up demanding that their voices be heard by the rich. Maru’s top scientists created the mind pairing idea as a solution. Because those who are paired come to know each other’s thoughts so intimately, they often marry. However, in the case of Joy Abara and Felix Hamdi, a pairing is unlikely since he’s of royal blood and in line for the throneRead More →

Robby Weber writes a romantic-comedy that moves beyond what I define as a beach book, a sugary treat to indulge a craving but not necessarily one that prompts deep thought. With his novel If You Change Your Mind, Weber explores topics like relationships and finding the core of what matters. Even though real life and romantic comedies are very different things, under the influence of Weber’s pen, we realize that similarities do exist. To assist the reader in seeing some of these, each chapter is named for or alludes to a rom-com film to parallel the plot. Some of these include You’ve Got Mail, Serendipity,Read More →

Edited by G. Harron Davis, Cam Montgomery, and Adrianne White, All Signs Point to Yes is a collection of short stories targeting those who are addicted to reading their daily horoscopes. That many of the collected stories end with a kiss and several include references to the occult or witches shouldn’t alarm readers. After all, there is something magical about love. The thirteen authors who contributed stories prove that love is as universal as sexuality and ethnicity are diverse. Their works further share powerful morals, such as: regrets don’t serve anyone or that flirting isn’t a valid form of identification. These authors also invite criticalRead More →

Feeling small, alone, and unloved, Ellis Truman has been abandoned by her parents. With a father addicted to drugs and an alcoholic mother who is mostly absent, Ellis is often home alone. She grows up embarrassed of her house, her parents, and who she is. She grows up in a world of in-between, unsettled, angry, and unsure of where she belongs. Then, Sandry Albrey, who grew up in Indiana with Ellis’ father, offers Ellis a home.  Sandry knows Tru’s shortcomings as well as the depth of his love. It is from her that Ellis will also learn the true meaning of love. Although Sandry welcomesRead More →

With multiple allusions to film noir and with some genre blending, Katie Henry writes a humorous story—Gideon Green in Black and White—about Gideon’s serious approach to being a detective and solving mysteries. Dressing the part, sixteen-year-old Gideon wears a trench coat and a fedora and lives his life in the shadows. Using his difference to put distance between himself and others, Gideon makes his life mission one of truth-telling: “That’s a detective’s job. Telling the world what’s real, even if people don’t want to hear it” (12). For him, life is black and white and facts are facts. However, as time goes on, Gideon realizesRead More →